An essential ingredient of The Open Championship Golf Industry Lunch is the presentation by John Bushell, Managing Director of SPORTS MARKETING SURVEYS INC. GBN.com is grateful to John for allowing us to report (almost) his entire speech.
It is always a great pleasure to be able to welcome so many of you to the Open Championship Industry Lunch. This year it is the third lunch hosted by SPORTS MARKETING SURVEYS INC. and the BGIA on behalf of HSBC Golf Roots; and whether this is your first time to the lunch – or in the case of Paul Jepson, his 27th attendance at a Sports Marketing Surveys Open Lunch, you are all very welcome.
My last sentence at Royal St. George’s was “Let’s hope for a European victory by a wonderful role-model – to continue to drive golf forward in Europe”. Darren Clarke delivered just that with his 5 under score of 275 creating a romantic & appropriate result for the R&A and European Tour.
With all the gloom about the economy, the Euro, bankers & LIBOR rates, it is easy to get caught in a feeling of lethargy or depression. I do not feel this way. Golf in Europe is in great health, and we should be in a positive mood.
- Great Britain and Europe’s performance in the men’s golf rankings continues to improve.
- GB has the Top 3 players in the World, and 4 in the Top 10;
- There are 6 Europeans in the Top 20, and 20 in the Top 50 – this compares to to July 1991 when Europe only had 9 players.
- In the women’s professional game, Europe have 8 players in the Top 50 in comparison – with the strength of Asia in Korea, Japan and now Taiwan dominating.
- In 2012, we saw the final of the trophies played between Europe (or GB & I) and the USA being held here – with the Curtis Cup won at Nairn, joining the Solheim Cup, Walker Cup and Ryder Cup.
- Golf is in an inspirational position with role models, success and interest.
Rounds Played & the Weather
In 2011, the UK saw the highest level of Rounds Played since 2005, and the year started very positively in 2012, with Quarter 1 seeing figures up 5% on the strong performance of 2011.
A wonderful March – up 11% on 2011 – a fabulous Masters and the emergence of Bubba augured well for the season. Unfortunately, it was then, that the Hose Pipe Ban was announced. Since, then it has not stopped raining.
- Wettest April on record across the UK – with south, east and midlands having double the normal rainfall,
- May – the first three weeks were wet & unsettled… and then we had June.
- June has been the coolest June since 1991, and the equal wettest since June 1860 when measured back to 1766!
This has impacted on Rounds Played which for Q2 2012 are 18% down on Q2 2011, with April – often seen as the start of the golfing season, and important to get some impetus going down 27%; but with the core month of June down 19%. I am not going to mention the weather again.
On a positive note participation in 2011 was up to 3.94m golfers – this is 250,000 more adult players than the start of the economic crisis in 2008 where figures had fallen to 3.71m.
Importantly, core golfers has been rising – those who play 12 times a year or more at 1.63m – up from the 1.4m in 2008, although it is still behind the peak of 1.8m in 2004. These are the golfers responsible for about 80% of the expenditure on equipment, green fees and membership; these are the key industry customers.
Other SPORTS – Tennis
Golf is not the only sport with excitement and a positive situation in 2012. We have just witnessed a wonderful Wimbledon Championships, with a number of British and tennis achievements. The use of Centre Court under the roof, and tennis played to 11 p.m. has seen peak audiences.
We obviously also had Murray as the first British Finalist since Bunny Austin in 1938 – 74 years ago. The peak audience for the final was almost 17m – achieving a share of over 58% of the total viewing audience.
Some interesting facts, Murray and Federer both played the same number of sets in the 2012 Championships, Wimbledon – but Murray had to work much harder – he was on court for 276 minutes (almost 5 hours), he played 33 more games (the equivalent of 5 sets) and yet played 1 less winner.
As for the brands:
- Wilson was the #1 Racquet – followed by Babolat and Head;
- Nike was the #1 shoe being worn by almost 200 of the 574 players at the Championship – followed by adidas;
- Slazenger remains the tournament ball.
In Jonathan Marray, there was the first British men’s doubles winner for 76 years, and Heather Watson was the first British female to get to the third round since 2002, and Greg Rusedski won the men’s invitational doubles – using a racquet from new British tennis brand– MANTIS.
Tennis balls sales held up with over 1.1m dozen premium balls sold in the UK.
This afternoon, 1,044 miles away, they will be coming to the end of Stage 16 in the Tour de France – a short 197KM stage. This is the 99 edition of the event – and there has never been a British Winner – although Ireland recorded a winner in 1987 with Stephen Roach. Bradley Wiggins is perhaps about to change this – as of Monday morning he was ahead by 2 minutes and 5 seconds; and we are also seeing in Mark Cavendish – another British rider who has won 21 Tour de France stage wins, putting him only 1 behind Lance Armstrong.
The equipment census for the Tour de France, is slightly different to the European Tour with team cyclists having to use team kit – hence Sky Pro Cycling – the team for Wiggins & Cavendish and with a total of 10 British cyclists in the 28 man team are using Pinarello bikes, adidas apparel, Oakley eyewear and Shimano group sets, pedals and wheels.
At this year’s Tour de France, there are three teams riding Specialized bikes, two with Pinarello, and one team each with Trek, Giant, Cannodale and Bianchi – but it is a sport where equipment & technology – as in Golf – has such a major effect.
Every year, I try and find a trivia fact for you – that hopefully shows the fun side to research, but not too serious. In France, Germany, Sweden and the UK– there were 5.75m dozen golf balls sold, and in the same markets – 3.78m dozen tennis balls sold. If you laid them out side by side – the tennis balls would stretch 1,934 miles, and the golf balls 1,829 miles. The difference of 105 miles – or the equivalent of 4 Marathons, and if you laid them out around Royal Lytham would go round the Championship layout 26 times. That is a completely useless statistic – but great trivia.
Finally, this leads me to the last sport area – we are now only 9 days to the start of the London 2012 Olympic Games. This is going to put Great Britain, Team GB, and London in the largest global sporting spotlight this country has ever seen. Very soon, the stories will not be about G4S security staff, or the ticketing systems – but will be about the sport. We are about to see what is termed “the Olympic Bounce”.
However, one word of caution – the August 2008 Beijing Olympics saw UK golf lose almost 900,000 rounds as television viewers with red-button coverage and 24-7 viewing routes found themselves engrossed; but on a positive side, a great “Olympics Bounce” will have beneficial effects for the economy and for sport nationally. Also, we are now only 4 years away from when Golf enters the Olympics in 2016 in Brazil– another legacy from our Lifetime Achievement Award winner, Peter Dawson who led the campaign; and a result this will drive golf and golfer numbers in many emerging markets.
So, whether Team GB will be successful only in those sports where “we sit down” – look out for Ben Ainslie in the Finn Class sailing, or Chris Hoy in the velodrome, or any number of our rowing teams at Eton Dorney, it is going to be exciting. Perhaps, we will also see the emergence of new stars – perhaps it will be 18-year old Adam Gemili who a week ago today won the World Junior Championships in Barcelona in 10.05 seconds – a new championship record, and making him the 7th fastest Brit of all time.
Adam Gemili will be running much faster – but not as far as Ben Sharpe – European Managing Director of TaylorMade. Ben is running for a friend of his who has suffered with Cystic Fybrosis a life threatening genetic condition that affects many internal organs but especially the lungs. As such, he will complete the adidas 24 hour Thunder Run to raise money for the Cystic Fibrosis Trust. By promoting this – Ben has just donated £100 to the Golf Foundation. To Sponsor Ben. https://www.justgiving.com/Ben-Sharpe1
In 2012, we saw the final of the trophies played between Europe (or GB & I) and the USA being held here – with the Curtis Cup won at Nairn, joining the Solheim Cup, Walker Cup and Ryder Cup.
It is a fantastic tribute to all of the UK & Europe’s governing & development bodies that we have all four trophies on this side of the pond. Golf is in an inspirational position with role models, success and interest.
Many thanks again for joining us at the 3rd Industry Lunch in association with HSBC GOLF ROOTS, enjoy the Olympics; and most importantly, to echo my last sentence from 2011; let’s hope for another European Winner at Royal Lytham & St. Annes – by a wonderful role model – to continue to drive golf forward in Europe.
Sports Marketing Surveys Inc www.sportsmarketingsurveysinc.com